California takes lead in data center, telecom energy reduction

According to a report issued by the California Recovery Task Force Wednesday, companies and organizations in the state have won nearly three-fourths of all stimulus funds to reduce energy consumption at data centers and for telecommunications systems. Companies such as Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard and Sea Micro make up the $35 million in Recovery Act funds allotted to California groups to implement energy reduction projects at data centers across the country.

Managed by the U.S. Department of Energy, $47 million from the federal government has been set aside to improve energy efficiency in data processing, data storage and telecommunications industry. The private sector has pledged to match those funds by adding more than $70 million in funds, brining the nationwide total to $115 million. Research and development will be concentrated in three areas: creating more energy efficient equipment and software; minimizing power loss and heat build-up that occurs in server-based communications systems; and developing better ways to cool hardware.

California’s share is $17.8 million for in-state projects. But three companies headquartered in California will also receive funds, totally more than $17.5 million, for similar projects in other states.

California Recovery Task Force Director Cynthia Bryant said the percentage of money going to California companies, organizations or projects, highlights the state’s leadership in IT and telecommunications systems. She also indicated it would help strengthen the state’s data centers and telecommunication industries.

“The projects will help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in one of California’s strongest, most competitive industries,” she said in a statement.

Some of the bigger winners include two Santa Clara-based companies who will develop low-power processor and software designs to reduce server energy. SeaMicro and Power Assure will receive over $9 million and $5 million respectively for projects based in Santa Clara and Palo Alto, California.

Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard were among the California-based companies to land projects in other states. Yahoo will receive nearly $10 million for their work in a Lockport, NY data center to use ambient outdoor air for cooling. HP was awarded $7.4 million to test ways to cut energy losses and heat generation by converting electricity into other currents. Project researchers hope the Texas-based tests will make it easier for data centers to be powered by wind, solar and other renewable power sources.